May, 24 2014 11:01:24

Japan face Australia in cup final

Group hug: Japanese players celebrate after scoring a goal during their semi-final match against China. Japan will face Australia in the final of the AFC Women's Asian Cup tomorrow in HCM City. — VNS Photo Quang Nhut

HCM CITY  (VNS) —  Both Japanese and Australian coaches Alen Stajcic and Sasaki Norio have said they want to win tomorrow when the two teams square off in a mouth-watering showdown for the Women's Asian Cup.

Defending champions Australia scored a convincing 2-1 win over South Korea in a semi-final on Thursday night as Katrina Gorry and Elise Kellond-Knight scored in the second half on each side of Park Eun-sun's penalty goal for South Korea.

Stajcic is optimistic his team, which won the title in China four years ago, will win.

"We have a good chance of winning the final and I think the final will be a good game," he told Viet Nam News after a training session at Phu Tho Stadium.

"We did it once and we can do it again. We improve our game a little bit on Sunday and we can compete against Japan."

He pointed out that Australia have an advantage since they needed only 90 minutes to win their semi-final while Japan had to play for 120 minutes.

"Yes, we have a big advantage, everyone, even in our team, is tired, but Japan is one of the best teams in the world and we know we have to play very well and use some of our advantages against them.

"We played very well last night.

"We dominated most of the game and created a lot of chances to score goals."

The best of his young team has yet to come, he claimed, saying they are still improving and would perform even better at the World Cup next year.

"We can challenge the big countries like Japan, Germany, and America and I think there is a lot of potential in this team."

He said he was pleased with the accommodation and food and organisation, but found the traffic in Viet Nam quite different even from other Asian countries. But he and his team have already got used to it, he said.

Japan, who won the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, had to work hard to overcome a fighting China 2-1 in the other semi-final match, with Iwashimizu Azusa scoring the winning goal from a corner in the dying moments of extra time.

Japan have never won the Asian Cup despite reaching the finals four times, losing thrice to China and once to North Korea.

But Norio is keen to end the losing streak on Sunday with a win over Australia.

"Playing in the AFC Women's Asian Cup is similar to playing in the World Cup, but we probably have a jinx at the continental event," he told the post-match press conference.

"I was in the stands watching Japan's men's futsal team beat Iran in the final of the AFC Men's Futsal Championship to lift the trophy early this month. I hope our players will repeat that victory on Sunday."

China play South Korea in the third-place play-off earlier tomorrow. — VNS

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